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GOProud’s Chris Barron: Amendment One is simple bigotry – NC is better than that

Christopher R. Barron is co-founder of GOProud and serves as its Chief Strategist. GOProud is often derided in the LGBT community; as a gay conservative organization (of the free market, limited government variety) it is seen as reflexively supportive of conservative policies and politicians that come at the expense of LGBT rights.  I disagree with GOProud quite a bit of the time on policy, but that’s another column, another day. What we can agree on is that Amendment One is wrong for North Carolina, and he asked me if he could contribute a column about it. Of course — this isn’t about liberal or conservative views; it’s about discrimination, and it’s important to hear from people who know NC.  Chris grew up in this state, and in true conservative fashion (and in sync with most mainstream conservatives here) he underscores that this amendment is a travesty, fueled by bigotry.

My North Carolina ties are deep. I grew up in Goldsboro, North Carolina. I attended undergrad at UNC-Greensboro and East Carolina University and got my law degree from Wake Forest. Both of my brothers still live in North Carolina with their wives and children. I will always consider North Carolina home, which is why I am passionately urging every North Carolinian – whether liberal or conservative – to vote against Amendment 1.

I am lucky enough to be legally married to my partner of 10 years under the laws of the District of Columbia where we live. However, you don’t have to gay or in favor of gay marriage to oppose Amendment 1.

Amendment 1 not only bans gay marriage, it is also so broadly written that it bans civil unions, domestic partnerships and threatens to outlaw any benefits offered to same-sex couples. While I support marriage equality, I understand that the country is still debating this issue, and that different states are coming to different conclusions and that will continue. This debate is healthy, and reflects the best our democracy has to offer. There is simply no reason to end this debate for all time with a Constitutional amendment.

The law in North Carolina is already clear. Whether I like it or not, marriage is defined as between a man and a woman.

What is really motivating this amendment, is what makes it so dangerous for my home state. What really motivates this amendment isn’t about protecting “traditional marriage” or making sure every child has a mother and father. No, what motivates this amendment is simple bigotry – and North Carolina is better than that.

While I grew up in North Carolina, I was born in Maine, and much of my extended family still lives in the northeast. Growing up, I was constantly trying to convince my family up north that North Carolina wasn’t the place they thought it was. I would tell people – and still do – that North Carolina was a place of great natural beauty, the banking capital of the south, the Silicon Valley of the east coast. It was a state with colleges and universities that afforded educational opportunities that were second to none. It was a place with charming small towns, amazing urban centers, and more culture than just the Andy Griffith Show. Most of all, it was the people of North Carolina that made it great.

This amendment tells the rest of the country that I was wrong about North Carolina – it sends the absolute worst message to the rest of the country about who North Carolina is and what her values are. It tells big businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups that North Carolina isn’t where you want to do business. It tells aspiring college students that North Carolina isn’t where you want to get an education. It tells young professionals that North Carolina isn’t where you want to raise a family. Most, disturbingly, it tells gay people that North Carolina doesn’t value you.

I know North Carolina. I love North Carolina. I have faith that the people of North Carolina will prove the doubters wrong and reject Amendment 1.

This isn’t about politics. It doesn’t matter whether you are for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney or Gary Johnson. This isn’t about ideology. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in big government or limited government. This is about doing what is right.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding